We've all been there; six years old racing your buddy to the best spot on the creek, lake, or local farm pond. What we didn't realize then, that came to light as we grew into adults is that there are enough fish to go around. Sure the honey hole may be your best bet, but as adult anglers we've all come to realize that the fish we chase will often hold in locations and behave in ways that defy six year old logic! Fast forward thirty years within my group and there are no more races. No more counting numbers. No gloating over big fish rights. Hell these days we're all pretty content scooping fish for the other guy. There's just as much pride in seeing someone new to the sport land their first trophy trout or seeing your buddy check a new species off the bucket list, as reaching those milestones yourself. I think its safe to say that the natural evolution anglers experience removes the six year old Ricky Bobby thought of "if you're not first, you're last" from your way of thinking. While this is true for most, some folks truly never grow up. Their Medulla Oblongata never full develops and it fails to send out rational signals. The one's that tell the angler not to jump in and fish asshole to elbow with a complete stranger. Maybe there's a cure for it. A pill you can take; I'm not sure. I'm no doctor, but I can tell you those folks are sending the wrong message to all future anglers. On three recent trips I experienced this moronic behavior in all of it's glory. One experience though, lead me to believe there is still hope. There are actually those who get it. Let me explain, and I'll begin with the bad.
On two separate occasions while fishing with my fiance, on two different stretches of DH water we had other anglers come down the bank and fish the same pool we were currently fishing. Not a "hello", not a "hey do you mind if I join you", nothing. I have to start by saying I don't get to fish with the better half often... mostly that's by choice, but nonetheless she has gotten pretty good at catching fish on a fly rod. I've used days on freshly stocked DH waters to have her work on her hook-sets, fish-fighting, and other skills that are easier to understand with actual field time. I think most will agree it's pretty stupid fishing. Don't get me wrong, there are times when a day of punching stockers in the face is exactly what I need, but you won't find it on any travel brochures. The thing that blows my mind is that during your typical DH stocking local hatcheries load the water with fish. Take a walk downstream and there are fish in almost every single pool, run, and riffle. The fish are by no means hard to locate. But because you see a dude and his future wife catching a few fish, that automatically makes you assume "that's as good as it gets"?! There are miles of stream void of anglers and the pool I'm fishing is the "promise land"? (Rolls eyes)
The good news is there are still anglers out there that get the code. On a separate trip last month to a popular DH stream known to be stocked with larger fish, we got an earlier start to beat the crowds. While rigging up right at sunrise, another passing angler stopped his truck and politely asked which way we were planning to head. Obviously we were the first to arrive that morning and he found it important enough to stop, say hello, and ask which way we planned to fish so that we could all have an enjoyable day on the water and not be fishing on top of each other. Was this guy going above the norm? Probably so, but our days on the water would be so much more enjoyable if we ran into that guy on each and every trip!
I'm sure I will come off as an asshole to some but to me it's common sense. If you run into another angler fishing a particular spot, give him or her space. Whether or not you had that specific spot in mind to fish, makes no difference. He/she was there first. "The early bird gets the worm" or "you snooze you lose" may be appropriately used here. If you have a specific spot in mind, get up an hour earlier and then this whole article may be a moot point. The bottom line is that it's honestly hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that some anglers find it ok to drop in and fish a spot where someone else is currently fishing. The thing is, if you go about it the correct way, strike up a conversation and be polite, odds are you may very well be invited to fish with said person. Let's all make it a point to do the right thing and set a positive example for all future generations!